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Is a Gap Year Right For Me

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Should I take a gap year – will it expand my career options?

A gap year separates life-changing experiences: It can come between senior school and university or after university and before starting your career. It can be a life-changing experience itself but it’s not guaranteed to be a force for good. Usually, it develops your skills and experience, thus expanding what options you have for your career.

A gap year isn’t just a vacation, it is actually a part of your education. It is not supposed to be a protracted holiday – really, it is a time to think about what career path you will aim for in the future and draw up plans for this along with the next stage of your education if relevant.

Historically, gap years between university and full-time employment were concealed and the resultant hole in your CV was doctored. These days, many businesses look on a gap year as a positive factor when hiring graduates; it is regarded as a chance to enrich your life experiences and as a positive for your career.

Nowadays, a gap year is not only the privilege of the wealthy; studies show that in recent years many more of us have taken advantage of the possibility. Considering the costs of education these days, it makes a lot of sense for each of us to fully understand what career would be the most suitable for us and what education choices would be best for us to move in that direction. Taking a gap year can be much less expensive than changing your university degree course.

If your gap year is planned well it can be a great deal more stimulating than your initial university year. For example, if you use your gap year to travel abroad you will gain really useful experience of another nations culture, and a basic knowledge of a different language. It will help you to develop your understanding of the world. It can ignite a passion in you that will eventually lead to a much more fulfilling career path.

What you do with your gap year makes a huge difference to your long-term career prospects.

What makes a good gap year?

  • Expanding your life skills
  • Clarifying what options you have for your career
  • Learning a language
  • Gaining work experience for a possible future career
  • Teaching English as a foreign language while living abroad
  • Becoming a volunteer

Advantages of a gap year

  • Your gap year can be a time to reflect; when the purpose of your education is put in the perspective of your career choice
  • It creates a more profound self-awareness that can be used in your future career path
  • Your career goals are clarified
  • New surroundings offer new challenges and dealing with them develops character
  • You become braver due to being challenged; obstacles appear less intimidating

Graduating This Year – Time To Think About Your Career

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As graduation approaches it is time to start thinking about your career

Do you really know what is the best career for you after graduation? If not, don’t worry, it’s common enough for your age, you are not the only one.

Don’t panic, but do assess the important factors you need to consider when choosing the right career. What would you enjoy? What would suit your particular personality? What career would align with your values and beliefs? What career would you be good at?

There are a wealth of career options and opportunities and they can seem overwhelming, but career decisions need to be made.

What career is right for you?

This is the biggest question facing you. Think about what you value in your career.

Is it:

  • Helping others?
  • Money
  • Following your passion
  • Life/work balance?
  • Flexibility and freedom over what you do?

Understanding what motivates you will help you assess the best career options for you.

What are your career strengths and weaknesses?

Recognising what you are good at, and equally what you not good at, is a key factor in deciding on the best career path for you. You have to be honest with yourself. If you are not sure, get independent careers advice using psychometrics to help you. Don’t bank on friends or family who don’t know the options and who may even have their own agenda in mind rather than your best interests! This is where using a professional careers advisor is an advantage. Using modern psychological tools – career profiling instruments such as career tests and speaking to a qualified and experienced career counselor – will help you to understand your skills, motivations and personality, and get a much clearer idea of what is the right career for you.

What do you really enjoy?

No-one can stand a career they don’t enjoy. You need to think about what you have enjoyed studying and the hobbies you have practiced when you were a student as well as any work, voluntary or paid, that you have done.

Where possible, find time to trial various career roles to see which you enjoy best. Getting work experience in diverse businesses can really open your eyes to the career possibilities. Perhaps you think you want a career in media for instance, but do you really understand the realities of that career path- that route may well not suit your style of work. It’s important to get a feel for the career and the industry before you commit yourself and put your career plan in place.

Build up your career CV

When you have got to the point of understanding a bit more about yourself and what career you want to do, you need to refine your self-marketing skills to make an impact at interviews. In order to gain experience, speak to people in the industry who are knowledgeable so that you can really get a feel for the specific career.

It will confirm your career path (or alternatively demonstrate to you that this is not the correct career for you before you go too far down that road!), but in any event, these experiences strengthen your CV giving you an advantage in careers you might apply for.

This also applies to activities outside your career. So, when you’re in between work and studies, utilise your time productively to show to your future employers that you have drive and personality. You should consider joining a community group, volunteering or working on a blog or website.

Good luck!

How to stay positive and manage anxiety during exam season

Parent Worried about Your Childs Exam Results

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As a parent, you are likely to be apprehensive about your child’s exam results

The imminent onset of exam results is a trying time for many families with teenage kids. The pressure on your son or daughter to achieve good results, which will give them the opportunity of getting into a good university and getting a head start in their career, can cause anxiety for both you and them! So, what can you do to relieve the pressure?

Here are our tips:

Get professional careers advice

Getting professional, objective career guidance at this stage for your teenager can be very useful. Our experienced careers advisors – who are all fully qualified Occupational Psychologists – are trained to support and help, even if your child has little or no idea of what career they would like to do.

We also understand that you may need to be involved in your teenager’s career choice, so we also offer Parent and Guardian Extension sessions – www.careeranalysts.co.uk/parents-and-guardians.php

In the teenager’s session on their own, they will focus on education choices and careers advice while in the Parents and Guardians extension you can explore the results of their consultation and talk with the career counsellor about their career choice. We find this is the ideal opportunity to talk about career recommendations in a professional and objective way and it really does add value to the careers advice programme.

Keep Calm

Passions run high in teenage years and tempers can flare. You need to realise that your son or daughter can be apprehensive about their abilities and worried about what their future career will hold. Don’t fix on exactly what your child’s career will be, but think about their strengths and weaknesses, and what would be a good fit for their personality and interests. This will help them make a final choice about their further education and career path.

Talk to your son and daughter

Discuss their future with them and keep open the lines of communication.

Try to get them to consider these questions:

  • What are my career goals?
  • What career path should I follow?
  • What career would suit me?
  • What do I want to achieve in my career?
  • What career am I capable of?

Listen to their replies and try to offer objective careers advice. This can be difficult as naturally you have high hopes for your child. Most teenagers would certainly benefit from talking to a careers advisor – their neutrality frees your child to speak openly and so allows productive discussions about their career path.

If you want to find out more about our careers advice programme of career guidance for teenagers you can read more here www.careeranalysts.co.uk/careers-advice-teenagers.php

Planning a career change in your 30s?

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Recent research has found 91% of those born between 1980 and 2000 expect to stay in their career for less than three years. This could mean over 15-20 different careers over a lifetime. It also means that, if you are approaching or in your 30s now, you may be reconsidering your career options.

Perhaps you’ve suddenly realised that the career you have isn’t right for you; or you’ve had a creeping realisation that the career choices you made in your teens might not reflect the person you are now.

So, if you are considering a career change in your 30s, there are some factors that you may need to think about.

Have you done your research?

You’ve worked hard at your career for the last 10+ years, so don’t give that up on a whim. Think hard about what career, or careers, you would like to go into and if they suit your personality and skill set. It might be worth visiting a careers advisor to get the most out of the experience – they can provide you with an objective view of your strengths, weaknesses and circumstances and what careers are available to suit you.

Can you afford it?

You may already have a partner and children, and these will be important factors when considering your career plan. You will certainly have financial commitments you need to think about before deciding on a career change.

Whether it is a mortgage, rent, loans or a car to run, before you take the first step on your career change plan you need to ensure that your commitments are covered and you can face the uncertainty that a career change can bring.

Get talking

One of the most efficient ways to get ahead is to network. Discussing your ideas for your new career or business venture with others is a great way to research your ideas, see what has worked and what hasn’t in the past, and to find contacts within your career who can help you. It may seem a scary prospect, but some of the best support for your career can come from your existing network and who they, in turn, are connected to.

If you’re thinking about a career change in your thirties, Career Analysts’ Career Change for 30+ programme is specifically designed to help people who have been working in a career for a number of years and are looking for a new career path. Contact us today to find out more.

How career dissatisfaction may harm your retirement

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Counting down the days to your retirement? Thinking about cutting short your career because you don’t like your job? If you haven’t made the best career choices, or are unhappy in your job, it could seriously harm your lifestyle if you decide to retire early from your career.

According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, whilst poor health is the main reason workers in the US take early retirement, low career satisfaction is also a major factor in the decision to stop working sooner than planned. While these are American statistics, they can apply to the UK too. Think carefully if you want to quit your career because you’re unhappy, as the consequences can be far reaching.

So why should you rethink early retirement from your career?

There may be other career options

Although you may feel like you hate your career, and the temptation to leave early and make the most of your years is very attractive, think about the changes you could make to stay working in your career for longer.

You could talk to your employers to find better hours or more career fulfillment. You could also look around to find other career opportunities; it’s never too late to make a career change if you think it through carefully.

Have you explored all the career options? Write down why your current career isn’t motivating you right now, and think of some ways to change this for the better.

It may help to talk to a careers advisor with experience. They can analyse your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with career options that better suit your motivations and your practical circumstances.

Less pounds in the pot

The biggest drawback to early retirement is, of course, losing your regular income early. You may have a pension you can live off, but savings and other investments might not fare so well if you stop contributing to them now. Your pension itself may also suffer.

There may be enough money now, but unavoidable expenses such as house maintenance or care for an elderly relative may make an unexpected dent in your savings. Do you really want to have to face these issues later in life, realising that you should have stayed in your career for longer?

Work longer – Live longer!

New findings from the Health Retirement Study suggest that continuing your career past age 65 could actually add more years onto your life and lead to an 11% lower risk of death from all causes. The data proved that working even a year past retirement age had a positive impact on mortality rate, and indicated that those who remain active and engaged gain health benefits.

So, next time you talk about retiring early because you don’t like your job; think about your career options and how you can make your career work for you to see long-term benefits!

How bad management can affect your career?

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Everyone has a story about working for a terrible manager. For a business, they can cause an impact on morale, employee stress and turnover. For you and your career the results can be far more long lasting. Whether these bad managers take all the credit, never turn up at work or have a fierce temper, as well as making you uncomfortable in the office they can also affect your own career trajectory. It can get to the point where you don’t care about your career and how good you are at it, and this can affect how you view the company you work for.

Have a look at these traits of bad management and find out what you can do to make the most of the situation and enhance your career.

The MicroManager – breathing over your shoulder, checking all of your work twice over… this manager doesn’t seem to trust you to get on with your work. Learn from this by adjusting your working practices to suit their management style.

How can the MicroManager affect your career? It’s important to learn to work with all kinds of people and behaviour traits. While you can’t change how a person manages you, you can use the experience to help you deal with similar people later in your career.

The MIA Manager – If you’ve ever had a manager that just doesn’t turn up from day to day, or hides in their office, they may be Missing In Action. You can make this into an advantage by managing your time effectively and keep them updated on your projects and achievements.

How can the MIA Manager affect your career? You can, effectively, learn how to manage yourself in this situation. Your self-motivation and the communication of your achievements will help you work better and promote yourself to a wider audience.

The Misappropriating Manager – Whether it’s taking credit for your ideas or the whole team’s work, this manager is happy to get the praise and doesn’t share the rewards with their team.

How can the Misappropriating Manager affect your career? You will feel put out when your contributions are not recognised. Make sure to use the experience as a lesson for when you are in the same situation, and to give yourself constant reminders to thank or praise those within your workplace that are also doing a great job.

Are you too scared to change career?

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A recent article in a major national newspaper advised that it’s important to take risks and change career to be fulfilled in your career.

It suggested that, although people may on the surface have it all, they may be secretly unhappy with their career but unwilling to make the change to turn their lives around.

Did you just fall into your career? Are you too scared to try to change career? We look at what reasons could be holding you back from a career change.

Are you scared of making the wrong decision?

Making the decision to change career is a scary one. It could, of course, all go wrong – you lose your job security, the relationships you’ve built up for a long time, and your experience in your current career.

Are you too comfortable?

You do your job well, you do it every day and a leap into an unknown future that could ruin the comfort you feel in everyday life. It is a risk to change your career and upset your comfortable routine.

Is your job your identity?

Whatever you classify yourself as – husband, mother, Chelsea supporter, train-spotter, home baker – you will also identify yourself through your career. If you’ve been working for a while this can be a hard facet of your personality to change.

Whatever fears are making you resist taking a different route in your career, you need to weigh these up with your desire for change, especially if you are deeply unhappy with your current career. Talking through your fears and putting in a lot of research can alleviate your insecurities and get you on a path where you’re ready and excited to make a career change.

Try talking to careers advisor in order to map out a plan for your career change. Looking into the reasons behind your unhappiness, your skills and motivations, as well as getting an insight into the depth of careers knowledge that a careers advisor can have, will help you make your decision and allow you to move forward.

Top tips for a career in Healthcare

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Are you looking to start a new career in Healthcare? Whether you are deciding on A Level or University choices, want a career change or to return to work, there is a lot of scope and opportunity in having a healthcare career. 7% of the total UK workforce – that’s more than 2 million people – have NHS careers, which makes it the single biggest employer not just in the UK but Europe. An additional 1.4m people have careers in the private and social care sectors.

Business Insider recently published a great overview of tips from those in the Healthcare industry to others hoping to get careers as doctors, researchers, sales and much more. We’ve collated the best of these here:

1. Get a career mentor

A career mentor will help you stay focused on what you truly want to do without getting sidetracked.

2. Follow your passion

It’s important to be an expert in whatever career you fall in love with. If a certain career gets you excited, you know it better than anyone.

3. Publish your work

Finishing tasks is key to success in your career, especially in healthcare. By finishing a project, you have something to show for it.

4. Set high standards

Setting yourself high standards will keep you going in your career.

5. Don’t plan your entire career in advance

Be open to opportunities. Take risks and don’t have a fixed, preconceived plan that could limit your career.

If you are thinking about a career in Healthcare, careers advice may be useful in helping you work out if this is the right career decision for you. Choosing your career path is one of the most important decisions you will make, so take your time and ask for expert careers advice before you begin your career trajectory. Does Healthcare suit your skills, your qualifications, your career goals? Make sure you find out before you start on your career path.

Are women under-represented in high-power careers due to school curriculum?

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Danish research has indicated that women may be under-represented in high-powered careers in areas such as business and science because of the inflexibility of school curriculums.

The study has found that teenage girls tend to resist signing up for advanced maths courses and qualifications. This is not because of a lack of ability or lack of reward, but the inflexibility in courses and the curriculum. This is an issue for women in their careers, as the study also found that students who did take advanced maths earned 30% more on average in careers than those who did not, and achieved more in those careers.

The paper, published in the June 2016 Economic Journal, is based on an analysis following the education and careers of three groups of students who started high school in 1984-86. The study randomly allowed students to take a more flexible combination of advanced maths and other courses rather than a restrictive bundle of courses.

Whilst only one in 10 girls picked advanced maths before the pilot scheme, this doubled after the initiative was introduced. More boys also chose these courses, rising from four in 10 to half of the sample. Only the girls with the highest abilities chose maths, while boys who had a lower ability were willing to pick it. The study suggests that more girls would gain in the longer term of their career path from taking advanced maths, and more could be encouraged to do so by introducing further flexibility into the curriculum.

“Changing the learning environment and designing the curriculum to identify, and foster, girls with high mathematical abilities would attract more girls and reduce the gender pay gap in top careers,” the paper says.

The researchers, Juanna Schroter Joensen, of Stockholm School of Economics and the University of Chicago, and Helena Skyt Nielsen, of Aarhus University, also say: “If girls choose advanced maths and science courses in school, they are paid as much as comparable male colleagues in the same careers with these qualifications.

“But somehow the costs embedded in the educational environment discourage girls from going for these qualifications – despite them being paid well for doing so.”

Poor careers advice one of the reasons cited as stopping employees from getting into the right careers

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A third of UK employees are disappointed with their career progression, the Employee Outlook Survey: Focus on Skills and Careers survey has revealed.

2,000 people were asked to consider key factors relating to their upbringing, education and workplace that affect whether or not their career progression had met their expectations.

Over a quarter of respondents said their career path had failed to live up to their expectations, and 29% said they could not show their strength or potential while they are in the wrong career.

The survey, commissioned by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and career development, found that the most common workplace factor behind career disappointment is poor career management, followed by a lack of effective career training programmes and negative office politics.

It was found that poor careers advice was one of the reasons cited as stopping employees from getting into the right career; and bad career management prevented them from getting on once in the career.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, commented on the study: “Poor careers advice and guidance is holding back too many people at the start of their working lives and contributing to the increasing gap between the careers that people end up in versus the skills that they have. This skills mismatch undermines career satisfaction, employee engagement and ultimately productivity.”

The CIPD recommends that employers should prioritise career management, review their approach to flexible working practices and improve access to career training and development opportunities to keep employees engaged.